The mechanism(s) by which acetylcholine (ACh) increases atrial vulnerability to reentry and maintains its activity for longer durations remains poorly defined. In the present study we used high-resolution activation maps to test the hypothesis that ACh promotes meandering of atrial reentrant wave fronts, resulting in breakup and the generation of new wave fronts that sustain the activity. Reentry was induced in 11 isolated canine right atrial tissues (3.8 x 3.2 cm) by a premature point stimulus (S2) before and after superfusion with ACh (15 x 10-6 M). Endocardial isochronal activation maps were constructed with the use of 509 bipolar electrodes (1.6- mm spatial resolution), and the dynamics of the activation wave fronts were visualized with animation. A vulnerable period was found during which an S2 current strength >4.4 ± 2.5 mA [lower limit of vulnerability (LLV)] and <26 ± 13 mA [upper limit of vulnerability (ULV)] induced a single stationary reentrant wave front that lasted 3 ± 2.5 s with a period of 159 ± 17 ms (16 episodes). ACh shortened the refractory period from 100 ± 12 to 59 ± 9 ms (P < 0.001) and increased vulnerability to reentry induction by simultaneous decrease in the LLV (0.7 ± 0.2 mA, P < 0.001) and an increase in the ULV (82 ± 24 mA, P < 0.01). ACh accelerated the rate (period of 110 ± 16 ms, P < 0.001) and converted the stationary reentrant wave front to a nonstationary (meandering) reentrant wave front showing polymorphic electrograms, i.e., 'fibrillation-like' activity (22 episodes). Rapid meandering of the reentry tip led to wave front breakup (18 episodes) and the generation of new wave fronts (19 episodes). These wave front dynamics also led to sustained (76 ± 224 s, P < 0.001) fibrillation-like electrograms. We conclude that ACh increases the ULV and promotes meandering of a single reentrant wave front, leading to breakup and the generation of new wave fronts. Single meandering and complex wave front dynamics cause fibrillation-like activity and sustain the activity for longer duration.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology|
|Issue number||1 42-1|
|State||Published - Jul 1997|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)